The lunatic North Korean regime continues nuclear threats and tests while the Obama administration continues its policy of “strategic patience” — which might be roughly defined as not doing very much, but in a strategical looking kinda way — and hoping the new Chinese regime will do something. (Which it likely won’t.)
Team Obama watched as the Bush administration truly bent over backward during years of negotiations with the North Koreans, sending over uber-diplomat Christopher Hill to work it full-time — agreeing to give back seized funds, giving food aid, dropping the regime from the list of state sponsors of terrorism — all for verbal agreements that the North never fulfilled and as they continued their nuclear and missile program.
The U.N. sanctions continue but, as long as neighboring China doesn’t enforce them, they’ll have minimal effect. And China won’t act against the North, as our colleague John Pomfret recently wrote.
But there was a time not long ago when a top member of the Obama administration called for military action against the North.
That would be Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter — the guy who sparked that salary give-back stampede amongst administration officials to show solidarity with federal workers affected by the sequester.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post in 2006, Carter, who had been assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration, and former Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry wrote that “intervening” in North Korea “before more mortal threats to U.S. security can develop is surely a prudent policy.”
Washington needed to “strike and destroy” a long-range missile the North Koreans were planning to launch. The authors suggested a cruise missile should take out the North Korean missile.
“But diplomacy has failed,” they wrote, “and we cannot sit by and let this deadly threat mature.”
Of course as an academic — both were college profs in 2006 — it’s one thing; when you’ve got the reins, it’s another.
A senior Defense official assured us Tuesday that “Deputy Secretary Carter fully supports the administration’s current policy towards North Korea.”
Carter and Perry were surely right when they said that doing nothing “would only embolden North Korea even further.”